Battle of Nijmegen

Tidioute re-enactment tackles new WWII bridge battle

Times Observer file photo This Times Observer file photo from 2018 pictures the bridge to Tidioute during the Battle of Remagen reenactment. The 11th Annual WWII Reenactment: “The Bridge at Nijmegen, Holland — Operation Market Garden” is free to attend and begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, August 3.

Tidioute will soon become Holland, complete with wooden shoes, soldiers, Dutch civilians, pyrotechnics and orange — the national color of the Netherlands.

On Saturday, Aug. 3 Tidioute will host the 11th Annual World War II Reenactment: “The Bridge at Nijmegen, Holland — Operation Market Garden.” The reenactment is free to attend and begins at 3 p.m.

This year’s event features a new battle reenacted for the first time in Tidioute including new British and Canadian units. The event will maintain the same start and endpoints as in previous years but will feature more military vehicles, including tanks and aircraft. Pyrotechnics will be used to simulate explosions during battle.

Hundreds of reenactors, including the 101st and 82nd Airborne units, will recreate Operation Market Garden, the largest Allied Airborne Drop up to that point during WWII. This year marks the 75th anniversary of this battle.

Those familiar with the 1977 film “A Bridge Too Far” may recognize some of the scenes portrayed during the event.

Times Observer file photo This Times Observer file photo from 2017 shows reenactment participants in period dress in Tidioute. This year’s event features a new battle reenacted for the first time. The 11th Annual WWII Reenactment: “The Bridge at Nijmegen, Holland — Operation Market Garden” is free to attend and begins at 3 p.m.

In the summer of 1944, the Allies launched a daring airborne operation to secure the River Rhine crossings and advance into northern Germany. Although it ultimately failed to achieve its objectives, the determination and courage shown by the airborne troops and the units that assisted them made Market Garden one of the Second World War’s (1939-45) most famous battles.

In the summer of 1944 General Bernard Law Montgomery came up with an ambitious scheme to cross the River Rhine and advance deep into northern Germany and shorten the war.

Codenamed ‘Market Garden’, his plan involved the seizure of key bridges in the Netherlands by the 101st and 82nd US Airborne Divisions, and 1st British Airborne Division who would land by parachute and glider.

If successful, the plan would liberate the Netherlands, outflank Germany’s formidable frontier defenses, and enable an armoured drive into the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland.

Although units of 30 Corps captured Nijmegen bridge in conjunction with the US 82nd Airborne Division, they could not reach the furthest bridge at Arnhem.

Times Observer art by Dave Ferry

The plan failed largely because of 30 Corps’ inability to reach the furthest bridge at Arnhem before German forces overwhelmed the British defenders. Allied intelligence had failed to detect the presence of German tanks, including elements of two SS Panzer divisions.

A costly failure, Operation Market Garden remains a remarkable feat of arms. This is not because of its strategic ambition, but due to the determination and courage shown by Allied airborne troops and the units that tried to reach them.

It also led to the liberation of a large part of the Netherlands at a time when many Dutch people were close to starvation.

Items on display during the event include authentic WWII American and German uniforms, equipment, vehicles and aircraft.

The reenactors military camp will be set up at the baseball fields in Limestone Township, just south of the Tidioute Bridge. The camp is open to the public on Friday evening and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The battle for the bridge begins at 3 p.m. and will run along the old railroad grade from Scott Street to Buckingham Street. it will continue across the bridge, ending on the hillside above Route 62.

Route 62 will be closed on Saturday from approximately 3:30 p.m. to 4. The bridge will be closed from 2 p.m. to 4 to prepare the pyrotechnics prior to the reenactment.

Viewing areas are available on both sides of the river with limited nearby parking. A special viewing area is reserved for veterans at the intersection of King and Buckingham streets.

Food and beverages may be purchased from various vendors or local restaurants.

Event T-shirts and souvenir hats will be available for purchase near the VIP tent. Proceeds go to the WWII Reenactment Committee to help defray the cost of the event.